What’s actually in your wine? Dave Schavone of RedThumb Wine teaches us a thing or two

Nov 10, 2021

When there’s wine, there’s a way! Jess and Mason join Dave Schavone, co-founder of RedThumb Wine, a new transparent & natural wine company with a ‘do no harm’ approach in their low-intervention winemaking process. What’s really in your wine, where and how can you get great wine on the cheap and what’s the minimum you should spend on a bottle of wine are just a few questions uncovered in this episode.

Show Notes:

RedThumb Wine – https://redthumbwine.com/


Pretty ok transcript:

[00:00:00] Jess: This is Jess and Mason with a mostly green life sitting down with Dave Shavani co-founder of red thumb wine at his home in Venice to chat about insight on one of our favorite indulgences wine.

[00:00:10] Mason: By the end, you’ll likely start questioning what’s actually in your wine and what’s the minimum amount you should spend to get a good.

[00:00:18] Jess: And by the way, this was a remote recording from our mostly Greenlife tore this past summer. So you might hear a bit of background noise from time to time.

[00:00:25] Dave: Um,

[00:00:34] Mason: all right. So today we have Dave Chavone a co-founder of, are they, is it too bold to say a new category of wine?

[00:00:45] Dave: Oh, that’s an interesting question. No, I don’t think it’s too bold to say at all. I

[00:00:48] Mason: think it’s a new category of, of why all transparent. Why red? Um, transparent. Why not the color of the wine?

Exactly. Um, and so these three guys, Dave Diego, and Eric all went to college together. Seem to have all stayed relatively close to wine over time.

[00:01:05] Dave: Would you say that? Yeah. Well, Diego has been in wind the longest. So you going to do it right after school? I found that a little bit later. Um, kind of, it was like my second career.

Um, Eric just likes to eat and drink a lot.

[00:01:18] Jess: We like to eat and drink with

[00:01:19] Mason: air. Yeah, of course. Which one are you was, is suddenly a

[00:01:23] Dave: Pao da. He came up at commander’s palace in new Orleans. Which has one of the best wine sellers. And he kind of learned a lot there. And then his boss who kind of was his mentor, was going out to Vegas for a job and took him out there.

And he was a som at a Michelin starred restaurant in Vegas for years. And then kind of moved up into the, you know, buyer corporate ranks.

[00:01:43] Mason: Yeah. So then, so what motivated you all to get back together and, and do read them? It’s interesting. We

[00:01:50] Dave: were at dinner together, um, with, uh, the guy who became our angel investor and he kind of looked at us and he’s like, so we got someone who knows, you know, natural products and branding incredibly well.

And we get two guys who’ve been in the wine business for awhile. Why aren’t you guys doing something like, you know, put it together. And he said, if you guys come up with a decent idea, I’ll, I’ll see it. You know, I kind of laughed at it. We were all, we’d been drinking all day, you know, having a good time.

We’re in like Vegas for like one of the fights, I think Mayweather McGregor or something like that. And, uh, you know, we just kind of, whatever, kind of brushed it off. But then we got to thinking afterwards and we’re like, we could probably put something together and we started looking at. Kind of what was available in the wine space.

And we, you know, Diego comes from a very fine wine world, the old houses, you know, big names, big dollar signs, and. The very kind of punk rock, natural wine world at a couple of different little spots around Los Angeles. I didn’t know. That was the thing. Yeah, totally. You know, I mean, a lot of the natural stuff is I think it’s very akin to punk rock, you know, it’s like, there’s all these old wine rules and we don’t care about any of them want to go back.

That’s already like pure and like direct from the heart and we’re going to get rid of all the, you know, overproduction. Um, and so, you know, um, I was very steeped in that world, which, you know, Diego and I would kind of, you know, friendly back and forth, you know, and be like, oh, how’s that $1,500 bottle. And he’s like, I don’t know.

How’s that bottle, it tastes weird. And so it was, you know, uh, we kind of started talking about like, what if there was something that was like in the middle of those two things. Whereas like it had all this stuff that I was passionate about as far as being good with the earth, you know, uh, clean production standards, all that kind of stuff, but tasted.

Classic wines. And, you know, you could, somebody liked, yeah. You could taste the glass of it and be like, oh, that’s a temporary, you know, from this part of the world, you know? And so we kind of set out to find that within a price range that we wanted to do, and we didn’t really think we’re going to, but you know, at that point we’re looking at it.

Like we got an all expenses paid trip to France and Spain, you know, let’s do it. And, uh, but we did, we found some great wines. We found a lot of great wines and we narrowed it down to three to start with. And that’s the three that we have on the market.

[00:04:09] Mason: Now, did you go over to France and Spain with a process in mind?

Or how did you, how did you decide here’s what exactly we’re looking

[00:04:17] Dave: for? We were really lucky. So. Eric was very connected in the natural foods world. And he hooked us up with a guy named Joe Dickson who used to be on standards at whole foods. He was on the USDA board deciding what is, and isn’t considered organic.

And so he helped us craft our standards. We approach it the same way whole foods did when they were getting started, which is if we have a set of product standards that our customers know our wines are going to fit within no matter. Then that gives us a little bit of credibility, but it also kind of puts us to a test of, can we find wines that meet our standards?

Obviously that tastes good. And we wanted to hit a price point. We want to be under $20 on a retail show

[00:05:01] Mason: filter to narrow down. So then, so then you only had to taste how many bottles

[00:05:07] Dave: we tasted that first trip, Diego and taste about 150. Wow.

[00:05:12] Mason: And so I think what everyone is wondering at this point, you and Diego, I mean, do you, do you spit or swallow?

[00:05:19] Dave: Uh, I spend about halfway Jessica

[00:05:22] Mason: dirty mine. We’re talking about, we’re talking about wine over here.

[00:05:27] Dave: We’re still talking about wine. Um, yeah. I try to stay professional. Diego’s a machine he can just power through and he would get to the end of 150. And he’s good. He’s like, I want to go get a beer. Eric was there as well.

And he was just drinking. His tasting notes were like,

[00:05:48] Mason: that was all he

[00:05:49] Dave: cared about. Not good. Yeah, exactly.

[00:05:52] Jess: And so with your wine, I mean, we love that the ingredient list is so minimal, so it’s organic grapes, native. You send just a touch of sulfur at the bottom in the bottling process. Is that correct? And so, I mean, Mason and I have searched relentlessly for organic and natural wines also that tastes good.

And a lot of the times it seems really hard to meet those two things to meet in the

[00:06:13] Dave: middle. One of the things that we wanted to was to kind of removed the trust me element from this whole thing. So like the natural wine world is built on a lot of trust. You know, like this wine that we’re drinking right now is I love this one.

Uh, this is from a guy named Olivia Linda song who actually recently passed away. So this will be like the last vintage that he ever makes. Right. And this was one of the guys who got me loving natural wine initially. And this is, you know, no sulfur, organically grown very much like that, that typical natural wine that is so popular.

These. Um, but he, you know, he can make so much of this wine. Um, and you know, it says it’s organically farmed, but it’s not certified by anybody. It says there’s no software in it, but he’s not, it’s, there’s no testing verification necessarily to, you know, to, to say so. Right. And so we said, You know, one, we think that this world is ripe for somebody to come along and cheapest system and lie about what they’re doing.

It’s got to happen. There’s just too much money in natural wine at this point. That’s a booming market. And so by, you know, going through all the tests and going through all the government certifications, yes, it costs money, but it’s not prohibitively expensive. I don’t think, I think that’s a little bit.

Um, a cop out for a lot of people who say, oh, I can’t afford to get my grapes certified, you know? Yeah, yeah. You can.

[00:07:34] Mason: Yeah, you can. It’s really, you just, you don’t want to fill out the paperwork,

[00:07:37] Dave: increase the price by a buck, a bottle, and you’ve paid for it. You know, you’re done

[00:07:42] Jess: potentially fit about it from time to

[00:07:45] Dave: time.

Right. And I think that’s a lot of what I don’t think it’s a lot of what time, I don’t think it’s a rampant problem, but I think we’re going to hear about it at some point, you know? And so. We wanted to make sure that everything we did was verified by whatever bodies were out there to do it, you know? And even with our wines, you know, we say made with organic grapes on them.

Um, because we do add sulfur, we can’t call it an organic wine. Yeah. Um, but these, this vintage was actually farmed biodynamically, but we don’t claim that because it hasn’t been certified yet. You know? So we’ll talk about it to people, but it’s not going on the bottle until we have a seal from somebody who verifies that that’s the case.

[00:08:21] Mason: The question of self-harm. Um, to me is really interesting. So I think it’s a very controversial substance and an additive. And I think there, and I forget when it was when I was growing up in and there was this huge movement where everyone wanted to blame their hangover on sulfur and they’re just like, oh, wine has added sulfites.

And that must be why. My head hurts so bad in the morning. And then I’m pretty sure a few years later it was, it was like, no, that’s not, you just drank too much wine. Right. So, you know, sulfur, tell us a little bit more like about sulfur and why you’ll add it and why people think it’s bad and why it’s actually not

[00:09:03] Dave: bad.

Yeah. You know, it’s really interesting. It, it has been scapegoated because. You know, any, every wine bottle says contains sulfites on it. There’s very few wines that don’t even, you know, this wine that doesn’t add any sulfur. There are naturally occurring sulfites from the fermentation process that are in the wine.

And, you know, the U S government says you have to have contains sulfites on there. Well, that’s because after prohibition, the brewers were looking for some kind of an advantage on the market. And so they said, well, you should have make wine and say that it contains self sulfides. Cause those are bad.

There was no proof of it at the time, but it’s just been on the books it’s been done that way ever since. So it goes all the way

[00:09:43] Mason: back to prohibition, right.

[00:09:44] Dave: Coming out of prohibition and, and it it’s worked, you know, um, even though they’re sulfites in beer, they don’t have to say it. You know, there’s fights many things that we consume.

[00:09:56] Mason: Is there any alcohol there’s not sulfites in? I mean, I don’t know about liquor. I’m not sure, but beer has sulfites.

[00:10:03] Jess: There’s now purchased a device. You know, has a pouch and you pour your wine through it.

[00:10:11] Mason: It just kind of ruins your

[00:10:11] Dave: wine,

[00:10:13] Mason: but does that for

[00:10:14] Dave: beer? Right. But you know, for sulfur, I mean, there’s way more sulfur in a diet Coke than there is legally allowed in the most like chemically enhanced wine on the market.

Wow. Dried fruits are full of sulfites and just naturally, you know, um, and people who have a sulfite allergy. From when they are very young, it’s like having a gluten allergy or a peanut allergy, you know, it’s, you know, it’s in so many products that are all over the place. Then if you have a problem with it, you know, it very young and it, it causes respiratory issues.

It doesn’t cause headaches. It’s like a lot of people who have severe asthma also have a sulfite allergy. There’s some kind of a link. And it gives them trouble breathing. Yeah. And so your headache is from drinking wine

[00:10:58] Jess: because

[00:10:59] Dave: I don’t disagree that natural wines tend to be little. Of a hangover because they’re not pumping them full of sugar in all of the cheat ways that big commercial wine pumps, sugar into their wine.

And they’re not, you know, full of all kinds of other additives that maybe those are causing the headaches. There’s a ton of research that needs to be done on this stuff.

[00:11:22] Jess: Right. Yeah. Since wine doesn’t have to list ingredients. Can you share like what you mentioned, sugar and some other potential like chemicals or preservatives that are added to other, you know, mainstream wines that you guys don’t it’s

[00:11:34] Dave: in the big ones, are they do things to adjust the look of the wine.

So they’ll add a different clarifying agents to, you know, remove solids or to brighten a white wine, things like that,

[00:11:49] Mason: including. Uh, is that a Clarence

[00:11:53] Dave: housing blood I’ve seen, uh, they use fish, fish bladders, a horse hooves. Yeah, exactly what you want. Egg whites is the, the most traditional and a ton of really high-end burgundies until a few years ago, we’re still using egg whites.

And then like, you know, the, the desire to make vegan wines. Yeah, it’s kind of trumped that. And there’s a lot of vegan finding agents that you can use as well. Like bentonite clay or diatomaceous earth. Those are all, you know, fine as well. Uh, we decided with our wines to use a filtration process just because I don’t believe that you can remove things by adding things.

It just doesn’t really work. Right. You know, people swear by it, but I think if you filter responsibly, you’re good. Much closer to your desired result. Interesting.

[00:12:41] Mason: The first time I heard that phrase vegan wine, all you think of is that the wine is grapes. What do you, what do you even mean? Do you have any clue?

I mean, wine companies don’t have to disclose this stuff on the bottle, which is, I think the most frustrating piece of it. Right? How, what percentage of the wines on called a. A liquor store shelf are actually V

[00:13:09] Dave: you know, it’s, it’s hard. I don’t have no idea. You have no clue. There’s no way of knowing. And then, then you get into like machine harvesting where they’re just like sending like these big trackers through to just scoop all the grapes up while they’re getting everything else.

That’s in that vineyard too. There’s all every road that’s running around in there. It’s just going in the tank. And so. I mean, they didn’t add that. I don’t think you’d call it a vegan. Y like mouse floating around in there. Is there

[00:13:40] Mason: an aloud in food? There’s actually a, a number of insect fragments per. Uh, gr pound that are allowable and food.

This is why we’re

[00:13:52] Dave: not regularly

[00:13:54] Mason: loud. I don’t think

[00:13:56] Dave: that they’re hoping that the mice will get the insect

[00:14:00] Mason: for. So what are the most common additives that wine companies put in? You said the look of it. I assume it would be the most,

[00:14:09] Dave: there was a big part too. So like a like citric acid to brighten the wine’s flavor.

There’s a product called mega. Which is, uh, it’s derived from wine grapes. And so a lot of people are just like, well, you’re not adding, it’s just wine grapes, you know? Uh, but it’s like super concentrated. So it darkens the color, it boosts the sugar, which boosts the alcohol. It also boosts like the concentration.

So you get these big California wines that are like inky red, stain your glass. Stain your teeth and lips? Yes, probably probably. Cool. Metta purple mega mega mega pregnant. So that’s, that’s pretty bad. And there’s, I mean, there’s some, you know, more. Chemicals like formaldehyde and going through processes, but they don’t consider it an additive because it’s used to process.

[00:15:01] Mason: Yeah. It’s a processing agent. Exactly. And not an additive. Right. So do they don’t have to declare additives, right? That’s certainly not agents. I don’t have to declare anything. Don’t have to listen ingredients, you know, before I started talking to y’all. I mean, honestly, I just, I mean, I just drank wine. I didn’t, yeah.

[00:15:21] Jess: I mean, just recently we started looking in like the natural section that whole foods has. And I mean, we’ve struggled to find ones that we liked and also ones that were in the price point that we felt like pain. Um, and so when we were able to try your guys’ wine, I mean, it’s delicious and everything we’d want out of a wine.

And so we’re excited for you guys to get. You guys are already are in the market, but to expand your distribution and come to Austin, for sure. We’ve been waiting for that. Hopefully

[00:15:48] Dave: very close to

[00:15:48] Jess: having that happen. I follow y’all of course, on Instagram and I keep seeing plugs of Austin. I’m like, yeah.

But where did the

[00:15:57] Mason: Instagram just read them? One, three of you got together, created a wine. Y’all went out, drink a whole lot of wine. Eric got drunk. Diego was fine. It was fine. That was like, you were somewhere in the middle there. And so y’all found these three. Vintner’s was it different vintners per varietal that y’all are launching with?

So initially

[00:16:21] Dave: it was initially we found our temporary owner Chardonnay from one producer and a Rosa from another. And then when we were going through our verification process, we found out that that Rosa producer was using a finding agent, which is what you add in to clarify the wine. We were talking about egg whites, all that stuff.

Well, they were using P pro. And there pea protein wasn’t organic. So that kicked the wine out for us. And luckily our, uh, the producer of our temporary own shorten a, had a great Rosie ready to go for us. We hadn’t tasted initially. Yeah. And it was at, I think it was an improvement over the initial one. I really like our Rosa a lot.

And most people who work in wine are really sick of drinking. Rosa. It was nice to find one that I can actually, you know, enjoy a glass of from time to time.

[00:17:10] Mason: Yeah. See if one vent or do you call it that? We call it a producer producer. Yeah. So there your producer

[00:17:17] Dave: in Spain, correct? Yeah. Then expanding to Navarro, which is.

It’s the region just to the east of Rio. Rio is like the big famous region in Spain. And it’s like their Napa or Bordeaux. Uh, and Navarro is actually called the it’s like the produce basket of Spain. It’s where most of their agriculture is incredibly fertile soil. Uh, and people who know how to grow and teams that know how to come in and harvest that live locally.

You know, you’re not relying on like migrant labor to come in and harvest your grapes, but it had kind of been forgotten as a wine region for a long time. You know, these guys and a couple of others have recently been making more interesting wines out of Nevara for a long time. It was just commercial wine, you know, three liters for restaurants to cook with and that sort of thing.

[00:18:02] Mason: Yeah, I guess at this point there about 50 years out of being a third world country, but it takes awhile to develop some education in some regions. So, whereas

[00:18:12] Dave: we were in Barcelona, we went from south of France town to Barcelona, um, just precisely all along the. And then Nevara is going to be maybe an hour and a half, two hours north, north of Barcelona.

So it’s pretty inland, there’s a little bit of a coastal influence, um, at the Northern end of the region, but we’re, our guys are, they don’t really get it. So it’s definitely a continental climate. Gotcha. Um,

[00:18:35] Mason: okay. Very

[00:18:36] Dave: cool. And these guys have been, uh, they took over for their father. Their father had the vineyard and I guess he wasn’t really.

Doing much with it. And they took it over in the nineties and they’ve been certified organic since 98. They’re really into like green technology is their passion, you know, so they’ve got one of their brothers, um, has a, uh, you know, a green skincare line. That’s all based on egg. Whites, I guess was like the whole thing.

And then they’ve also developed a green, uh, street sweeper company and they’re selling street sweepers all over Europe that use like, you know, Evil chemicals and probably run on biodiesel or something like that. So their machines.

[00:19:16] Mason: Yeah, exactly.

[00:19:20] Dave: You’re not a guy with a broom. That’s the greenest

[00:19:24] Mason: since. To declare anything you can’t like, who are the worst wine makers out there in terms of, ah,

[00:19:31] Dave: man, I couldn’t even fray, you know, there’s so many, um, I mean, as a general rule, if you’re paying less than 10 bucks for a bottle of wine, there’s a lot going on in there that is not above board.

You know, you just can’t make a wine that cheap. If you’re in Europe, you can buy great bottles for less than, you know, 10 bucks or 10 euros, whatever. Uh, because. You know, it’s just much cheaper to make wine over there. There’s no land costs. You know, these guys have all inherited land, uh, and whereas you, you know, an acre at Napa is two and a half million dollars, you know,

[00:20:04] Mason: champagne can only be from the champagne region.

And I think it was 10 years ago. Article that there was only like 600 acres left in the entire region. That was not grapes.

[00:20:16] Dave: Yeah. There are plant all of it, everything that they can plant they’re going to, and somebody is going to start making one. That’s not very good. And with a champagne label, but you know, one of the good things about those old governing bodies in Europe is that they hold the quality standard.

And if you’re not making very good product, then. You know, they’ll, they’ll still let you call it champagne. Actually, I don’t think champagne, but, but like Bordeaux will, but they’ll be like, this is Bordeaux

[00:20:44] Mason: G level board up. Yeah. But I guess even though on that point initiative thing that I learned about was that once say once the people in the Champaign region realized they had something special, They created this governing body so that you could not call anything champagne that was not grown in the champagne region.

Right? So most of what America drinks is, is what sparkling wine, sparkling wine, not champagne, just fine. It’s fucking Brian with that, nothing wrong with that. But I think it’s a fascinating thing that champagne has to be from champagne region. And tequila tried to do that and say it had to be from a Leasco, but then I think they ended up softening it where I had to be producing police go, but they could still get the blue gov AE from all over the place.

Yeah. Interesting. Yeah.

[00:21:34] Dave: Yeah. There’s a few that have been very successful with that. Scotch has done a good job bourbon. You can’t call it bourbon if it’s not from Kentucky. Um, but champagne was first. Yeah.

[00:21:45] Mason: Yeah. They created that kind of thing, which is. Very

[00:21:50] Dave: fascinating. They were the first ones to defend it.

Cause there was a producer in California that was calling their wine champagne and the champagne union sued them. It was like, you can’t do that. You know, it’s international at that point. I mean like the champagne growers union really doesn’t have any poll in the United States,

[00:22:07] Mason: but there was some difference in the pockets there.

[00:22:10] Jess: Um, well, something, I feel like that’s, you know, much different. Yeah. Red thumb than other wines is the label and the packaging that you guys have. I feel like when most people go shopping for wine, they look at like the type of wine, the alcohol percentage and where it came from. And that’s the only thing that, you know, were all the information.

It’s the only information you’re given. So that’s all you’re looking for, but with your wine, you have like all of these additional buzz words and information on the front of the packaging. So it was curious, you know, the thought process on that and the, not necessarily the hierarchy, but. Once you chose and why for consumers transparency.

So on that

[00:22:46] Dave: front label, that’s all of our standards. That’s the standards list that we came up with, Joe working with him, what we thought was relevant, you know, because one thing that we decided with that, like these wines are gluten free. Right? Well, pretty much all wines, gluten free, you know, it’s, it’s one of those things where there might be like the question mark is if there’s like, there’s a certain sealant that some people use in barrels that might have some gluten in it.

So far, there’s been no issue with anybody who has a gluten intolerance drinking wine, right? Yeah. So we decided not to include that on our labels. We thought it was greenwashing, but everything else we thought was a matter of transparency, which is our, our, probably our cornerstone around what we’re doing here is there’s a lot of delicious wine out there.

And there’s a lot of wine out there in this price point. There’s a lot of wine that sort of has a lot of claims, but transparency is what we’re all about. So by putting all that stuff on the label, when we submitted that label to text and trade. Who approves all wine labels in the United States, we had anything that we claimed we had to have supporting documentation for it.

[00:23:47] Jess: They were like, what is this? Right. If we had a lot more paperwork for those labels,

[00:23:51] Dave: if we had just put it like a picture of a pig with wings on there, they’d be like, cool. I guess pigs fly now. You know, they don’t need any supporting documentation for flying pigs, but for the amount of sulfur that’s in your wine, they, they needed a lab test vegan, no hormones.

Yeah, exactly. But

[00:24:08] Mason: not. No. And w what is this wine or drinking again? This

[00:24:13] Dave: is Olivia . So this is a blend of I’m going to mess this up a game, a cab Franc, and grow low.

[00:24:21] Mason: And so we we’re on, we’re calling it the mostly green. Around this epic RV trip or going around Western part of the U S right now. And so if anyone hears noise in the background, it’s not poor quality sound production is because we’re literally in David’s bedroom because it’s

[00:24:42] Dave: set

[00:24:42] Mason: up.

Yeah. Yeah. It’s a quiet as a room in that. And so we’re in Southern California and, uh, we’re going to head to, nor Cal later, a lot of people think is kind of the epicenter of, of wine in America. Are there any vineyards up there you think we should go to, or if you were to give us bottles of red thumb, we could do BYOB and just

[00:25:05] Dave: definitely, yeah.

Take as many bottles as you want. There’s a lot of great stuff going on in California. Uh, where you guys just going up? Yep. Yep. Very cool. I’ll give you a list for sure. A lot more. I think interesting stuff going on in the Santa Barbara area. Oh, for like natural producers

[00:25:25] Jess: tomorrow night. Tomorrow

[00:25:27] Mason: night.

[00:25:27] Dave: Yeah, some really cool things. Definitely go to Los Olivos. It’s like this little town a little bit inland from Santa Barbara and

[00:25:33] Mason: Michael Jackson. Was he never land? Is that right?

[00:25:37] Dave: I didn’t

[00:25:37] Mason: know that I have a really weird story where I worked this part. He had never, he had only done one party ever at his house and he threw this party and I got somehow got to work.

[00:25:49] Dave: It was just when you were like seven,

[00:25:53] Mason: I was in my twenties, but yeah. Yeah, so weird things happen, but it wasn’t as illegal. I mean, the weirdest part, I was all concerned. They had free Gregor’s and red bull. It was an open bar. I puked in Michael Jackson’s driveway. Um, but it was very much, they, he has a movie theater and we, after about an hour and a half.

Um, of working in the event, I’m doing the air quotes working in the event. We took off our lanyards and then we were just, you know, guess and people were showing us around and we went to the movie theater and in the back of the movie theater, there’s a room with a, uh, I don’t know if it was a one-way mirror or what, but you could see out over the theater and they had all the chairs down there, but the room was separate and it just had a big bed with a whole bunch of stuffed animals.

And it looked like. Uh, king size children’s bed in this movie theater. And we, you know, we took one step in there and we’re just like, this is weird. We’re going to leave now. Yeah. Yeah. So he left, but he had a zoo and he could, he did like flamingos flying up on his window every morning when he woke up, it was fascinating, but it was low saliva us.

And. Forever. Probably for 15 years, I had a sweatshirt from the high school. They sold the sweatshirts of the high school. There. Gas station. Cause I didn’t know it was going to be cold. I didn’t know. California was called. That was from Texas

[00:27:30] Dave: wonderfully cold. Um, yeah, it was lovely. It was wine tasting, uh, with, or without Michael Jackson.

Uh, it’s like, you know, the center of town, it looks like this like idyllic, 1950s main street America thing. Oh, very cool. But it’s just all wine tasting rooms. So you just roll in you park in the morning.

[00:27:49] Mason: In the morning Wego tastes rolling.

[00:27:52] Dave: 11, something like that. That’s when they had open. Yeah. I don’t know how the COVID is treating things up there right now, but just would do

[00:27:59] Mason: it at 9:00 AM.

If someone had to give her permission,

[00:28:02] Jess: well, we can get started with some red thumb if I’ve never been to Sonoma or Napa. And those are not the places that we’re going with, the type of wine that we’re wanting to do. Um, which I’m not, I’m not upset. We’re not going to any of those places. I’d prefer to go, you know, to the places we want to drink.

[00:28:22] Dave: Sure. And there’s a lot of people doing, you know, more honest lines up there, but they’re making a pretty penny for them, you know? And they’re, they’re making them very much in like an old world style that I don’t think that any of them are saying like, this is a natural wine, but it kinda is because they’re following very old world processes, you know, and there’s a lot of wine.

The big time, French producers, you know, uh, I mean, uh, Romanee-Conti is the, you know, the most expensive wine in the world right now on a burgundy. And those are probably technically natural while. Yeah, but they’re not advertising it as such know

[00:28:56] Jess: what is the most expensive wine in the world like per bottle,

[00:29:00] Dave: man?

I think it’s lately it’s been Romanee Conti.

[00:29:03] Jess: Yeah. I’m sorry. I meant like the price

[00:29:05] Mason: 50,000.

[00:29:06] Dave: Yeah, no problem.

I was showing release. You can get like some of their, like. You know, vineyard, designated bottles, everything they do is vineyard designated, but, uh, if it’s a less desirable vineyard, it’s maybe like eight to 10 grand on release, you know, you can, it’s a bargain.

[00:29:33] Mason: And then does that because I know different wines from one vineyard tastes different year to year.

Do they charge differently per year, depending on the wine or is it all like catch-up, I mean,

[00:29:45] Dave: those guys at this point are so in demand that they’re just charging as much as they think they can, you know, there’s no costs rubric that they’re using whatsoever. It’s all about what they think the market will support.

And, you know, there’s a certain thing with a producer like that, you know, say they’re, you know, they’re really. 2000 nineteens right now. Right. And it’s, um, they’re selling them. It say they want to sell them at 25 grand a bottle and they’re not selling as well as they would like, well, they’re just going to put them in the seller and then release it as a library release.

Oh my God. 10 years from now, 50 grand a bottle, you know, they’re not worried

[00:30:20] Jess: the industry where it’s good to hold on to your inventory.

[00:30:23] Dave: Yeah, absolutely. Well at that level, it is, we would like to move our inventory.

[00:30:29] Mason: Just the opposite of the industry we’ve been in is that if you don’t sell it within two weeks, two weeks, it goes bad either way.

So people, I used to get calls on. They wanted to loan us money on our inventory. It was like, you obviously didn’t do your research, right? Like

[00:30:49] Jess: if you don’t sell your inventory, we’ll buy it. If you don’t sell it within a few weeks, when they call it’ll go bad at that point.

[00:30:55] Dave: Well, you know, let people make bad deals

[00:30:58] Mason: talking about price.

It sounded like you said, you can’t, you can’t actually buy a real wine for less than $10.

[00:31:05] Dave: They’re very, very rare. They’re out there, but, um, it’s usually a situation of something getting, uh, overbought by somebody or something like that. You know, everybody’s giving up a bunch of margin on it to just move it out the door.


[00:31:20] Mason: I think there are good deals. They say people have excess inventory. They made too much, and we can’t tell you whose it is, but as a high quality one,

[00:31:28] Dave: Um, no, not really like some of that stuff though. There’s some programs, some of the stuff at Costco, some of those Kirkland wines, which are, you know, they won’t tell you who the producer is on it, but it’ll be like a, an Ava, Napa Chardonnay or an Ava Napa Cabernet that would normally sell for twice as much.

You can get some good deals there, you know, but there’s going to be something wrong with it. There’s a reason it’s not paying bottled under that producer. Um, like what the color’s not right. Uh, the alcohol’s wrong for what they wanted it to be. It just didn’t do exactly what the winemaker wanted it to.

So maybe

[00:32:04] Jess: minimal for the consumer, but

[00:32:06] Dave: yeah, usually I think that’s usually a good, good indicator is if it’s got a Navy ACL on it, those grapes were expensive. You know, especially if you’re looking at like, I know whole foods has a private label wine or their criteria label, it’s a chocolate. Sonoma Cabernet right now.

That is, I think there’s something for 20 bucks. That’s a steal, you know, you’re not going to get chalk hill for $20 a bottle. Now, is it going to be like the transcendent experience that like a perfect chalk hill cab would be? No, but it’s going to be better than just about anything else you’re getting at that price point.

Yeah. So you

[00:32:42] Mason: said it, if it has the ADA seal, what does that look like? It’s not a

[00:32:47] Dave: seal really, but if that has a name of an Ava on the label, then it has to be from that. So Ava is the American version of like a, uh, you know, uh, an AOC in France or a D O D O P all done all the European countries have. Words for champagne is one.

Bordeaux is one. Burgundy is one. I have rules the grapes. It has to be this, this and this, the American ones are much more forgiving. Usually it just has to come from that. You know, like in burgundy and France, you can, for a red wine, you can make peanut Nawar or gimmick. That’s it. So if you’re growing Seraph in burgundy, you can’t put burgundy on your label.


[00:33:28] Jess: We’re going to need a list of wines to try. And I think we can share that with everybody. Yeah.

[00:33:33] Dave: Okay. What am I? Marketing team just went up there with her family. I give her a whole list, um, in like close Lemos, Santa Barbara area wineries to try out. So I got it. Ready to

[00:33:43] Mason: go. I say. I mean, you said Ava a couple of times.

I didn’t know what that meant. I was calling it American vendors association.

[00:33:50] Dave: I think it’s. Viticultural area,

[00:33:54] Mason: viticultural area. Okay.

[00:33:56] Dave: Geographical, totally wrong. It might be something back. Check it

[00:34:00] Jess: afterwards.

[00:34:01] Mason: We’ll come back to that. I don’t need to know that

[00:34:05] Dave: I’m an importer. Um, but yeah, and it’s interesting because there’s like this push now they keep approving new AVS and they get like smaller and smaller and smaller.

Yeah. You know, so you go up to like tapping and you’re like, how old mountain? So it’s like, this one mountain is its own Navy. Oh, wow. Yeah. And they’re doing that, like Washington is approving AVS left and right. So

[00:34:27] Mason: heard that in Napa, they have the vineyards have started putting in pools and they’ll have like Sunday pool parties.

[00:34:36] Dave: Sure. A lot of them are so much of the business. And so funding.

[00:34:40] Mason: Yeah. I have not heard that. I want to go to a Napa pool party.

[00:34:45] Dave: It would be you and like 20, 40 year old

[00:34:52] Mason: they liked to have fun. So, yeah, we’re totally okay with that.

[00:34:57] Dave: It definitely caters towards a certain thing of people who like go up and they get on like a party bus that goes vineyard to vineyard. You know, they taste wines that are, they don’t care, or they’re not like trying to pick out, like, what’s the difference between the 17 and the 18,

[00:35:12] Mason: but they pretend like they are just there to have a good time, which is fine.

Yeah. We used to do, I played, uh, rugby in college and shortly after we would do wine tours. And so an interesting fact in Texas between a town called Stonewall and Fredericksburg is actually the highest density of vineyard. Anywhere in the U S more Napa or Sonoma, because they’re just popping up out there.

[00:35:40] Jess: I mean, over a hundred.

[00:35:42] Mason: Yeah. Well, over a hundred. I don’t know exactly

[00:35:45] Dave: a lot of that is because the land there is not two and a half million, an acre. Exactly. People are being driven like young winemakers who want to do something interesting.

Uh, yeah, so like young winemakers who want to do something. They don’t have a $50 million loan to start a vineyard, you know, but they can go down to Texas and borrow 200 grand, you know, and get something going. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:36:15] Mason: Texas has an, an interesting history. Uh, my last company, a grocery delivery company, we delivered wine where the very first cartridge permit in Texas, where we.

So beer and wine over the internet and delivering it took me 18 months of harassing the TVC. And I’m, I’m just a persistent guy, but I learned a lot about wine wine. Apparently Texas roots saved France at some point. Some in Texas is bigger than France for anyone, much bigger than France. And, um, it’s a Texas rootstock saved the wine industry in France because they had some disease over there for 1800.

And so Texas had a, has a disease called Pierce’s disease that destroys vineyards. And so no one could really grow wine. Cause as soon as you planted that one extra row and caught pierces, then it went through everything. The district industry. And then they figured out in the last, uh, I think in the last five years, I figured out it appears disease resistant, root stock.

And so everything just blew up. And so now we have massive amounts of wineries in, in Texas and you know, a lot of wine tours, but so me and the rugby guys, you said organized. Wine tours. And the last one we organized was we got kicked out of the first winery first, the

[00:37:40] Dave: very drinking wine out of your shoe.

Cause that’ll do it every time. Yeah.

[00:37:44] Mason: We’re you know, it was a solid, I would call it, it was a solid 40 minute drive to the first winery and somehow we already too rambunctious. So we got kicked out of the first one. We got kicked out of the second one. Also, they had. Uh, goat away from us. One of the guys wanted to buy a baby goat.

I bring the goat, did not wait. We’re trying to take their goats. We’re going to buy the goat from them. And someone on premise was going to sell it again. I personally was like, no, we can’t buy this. Go to, it’s not going to be alive. But at the end of the night, we’re only on our second winery and we have five wineries ago.

So I thought that the goat wasn’t gonna make it. We’re not going to buy the goat. Someone, one of the owners of the winery learned that we were, even though we had to go and got really mad. So we got kicked out of the second winery. Forcefully. And then on our way to the third winery, we got a call from that third winery and they were like, don’t, you dare show up to our wine.


said, don’t even come. We will not even let you on their premises. Wineries don’t


[00:38:44] Dave: have bouncers, right? Yeah. Usually a concierge.

[00:38:48] Mason: So we between the second and third winery out of five, we turned around and just went back to Austin and we’ve never done a wine tour again, no class and group. Yeah.

We’re so classy. Well,

[00:38:59] Dave: if you guys can bring up, go back from Santa Barbara. You know, there’ll be legend.

[00:39:05] Mason: Yeah, it was, uh, it was a really cute baby. Yeah. They seemed to be

[00:39:08] Jess: fine

[00:39:09] Dave: at all. That’s how they ended up barrier all the time. Throw that thing in some tacos. We’ll be

[00:39:15] Mason: good to me and jazz. We like to, we try to stick to the 10 to $15 range.

Are there quality wines in that range? 15 to $20.

[00:39:26] Dave: Exactly. And so my general rule, what I’ve always told people is that except for like a few regions where you’re gonna have to really pay, you should expect if you’re spending 15 to $25 to be getting a well-made mostly handmade wine, it’s not full of additives.

It’s, it’s mostly an honest product. Yeah. There’s a, there’s a difference between sort of. Sub $10 full of commercial, chemical crap that is on the market and wines that are like 25, 30, $50, but are not made in a sort of clean, natural way. Those wines are. I still consider those wines to be sort of an honest product.

They just have a different point of view on how wine should be. Right. I don’t necessarily agree with you consumers

[00:40:09] Jess: don’t they don’t,

[00:40:12] Dave: they don’t. And there’s some huge wine brands out there that I don’t know for sure are doctoring up their wines, but

[00:40:19] Mason: you know,

[00:40:21] Dave: they, they sell the brand for $250 million with just the brand.

They just want the vineyards. And it’s the only thing. So maybe some people can figure it out. What I’m talking about.

[00:40:32] Mason: Uh, it’s a business, not an agricultural product at that point, right? Yeah.

[00:40:37] Dave: Right. I point of use. You have to be both. Yeah. If you’re just in this little pet project that somebody is doing to make, you know, a couple hundred cases of wine every year, that’s great.

And a lot of people are going to love those wines and they might be amazingly delicious, but you’re not going to move the market. Do you want a couple hundred cases of wine a year? We have capacity. We want to change the way people think about the wines that they buy every day at the grocery store. Not there.

Special occasion. Splurge is not the ones that somebody talked to them for 20 minutes. I’m out of the wine shop or at a restaurant. We think that the baseline should be that, you know, everything that you’re putting in your body.

[00:41:11] Mason: Absolutely. That’s amazing. That’s incredible from the time we record those at the time people listen, which may be a little bit unknown.


[00:41:23] Jess: what’s your current distribution and then

[00:41:25] Mason: talk about the future. Yeah.

[00:41:26] Dave: Hey man. It’s tricky. So. Available to distribution in state of Louisiana and California. Uh, we are working on a bunch of other states right now, but it’s coming up, you know, during COVID most distributors were just like, we’re not bringing on any new brands.

We’re, we’re barely servicing the brands we’ve got, we can’t add new launches right now. That’s starting to change, but then we’re also going into the dreaded O N D. October, November, December where like everybody’s everybody said is locked. Nobody has nobody. Yeah. And nobody’s bringing in new products, nobody’s changing anything.

They’ve they’ve know what their promos are going to be. Everything’s done. So we’ve talked about a few distributors that liked the product and they’re cool. And they’re just like, cool. So let’s maybe talk first of the year. Now. I don’t want to wait for the first of the year right now. I want to catch one this year.

And so we bring it in now we’re aggressive with our marketing and we’re aggressive with our, you know, the way we’re pushing the wine to market. So once a distributor picks us up, we’re going to hit those markets.

[00:42:31] Jess: Yeah with us. I don’t know, being in food and launching products in new markets, this is kind of outside of the questions we’ve been asking, but I’m just curious, like, what y’all’s go to market strategy is like within, when you launched in, uh, Louisiana or new Orleans or California.

So when you get a new state or a new city, what does that look like?

[00:42:50] Dave: Vastly different. So California, we can sell. And we haven’t really been able to get the traction going, because that basically means me going door to door and selling. And while we’re doing everything else, I haven’t been able to do that.

So we’re working on trying to find some brokers or maybe a distributor to handle the Salesforce in California, Louisiana. We set up a really great distributor, their wines on limit. They’re kind of exactly the distributor we’ve been wanting to work with. Like mid-level. So we don’t want to work with the huge companies, the big national distributors, because we’ll just get lost, you know, in their book.

And we’ll still be responsible for all the selling basically. Right. But we need people that have the capacity and the sales staff to get out there and push our one. Uh, so these guys are like a mid range, mid sized distributor in Louisiana. They covered the whole state. Louisiana was maybe a little bit of a layup for us, cause we know so many people there and we have a ton of connections around town.

We could kind of go in and start calling in favors to get that initial push rolling. And then I’m going down there in a couple of weeks. I’m gonna do ride alongs with sales reps and just go pour the wine for as many people as possible because all

[00:43:55] Mason: three of you went to college in

[00:43:56] Dave: Louisiana. We all met there, uh, at Loyola.

It’s an easy market to get into if your product is. And it’s one where people aren’t as concerned with the flash and the marketing and all that other stuff, which I think we’re strong in those areas. I think our label jumps off the shelf I’m working per program is great, but people taste our wine and they’re like, this is a really good value at, you know, 18 bucks on a retail shelf.

So they’ll, they’ll bring it, you know, that’s not the case in other markets, in other markets, you have to bring more to it. Yeah.

[00:44:29] Mason: There’s a lot of, I feel like there’s a lot of. Authenticity. And the Louisiana market is the first time I heard the phrase, uh, come from right as when, uh, my last company Greenlane, we’re expanding.

We’re going to maybe open up and in new Orleans, they were like, well, oh, are you a come from? Am I come from, I don’t actually understand that. What does that mean? It’s like, where did you come from? Sorry. Uh, I mean there’s significant xenophobia and in Louisiana in general,

[00:45:05] Dave: for sure what, having that Loyola connection is enough to kind of put, I mean, y’all

[00:45:09] Mason: are from there.

You’re not come from. Sure.

[00:45:13] Dave: Well, I’m, I mean, I’m, you know, only Eric who is. Uh, in the orbit of a C just kinda helping us along through this whole thing. He’s the only one from there. When I moved there for school, you know, I’m from Boston, Diego’s from Florida somewhere. Um, parts I known, I think

[00:45:31] Mason: somewhere flashy.

[00:45:32] Dave: We grew up in Peru actually moved here when he was like eight or nine years old. Oh really?

[00:45:37] Mason: Yes. I played rugby with a proven is the craziest guy ever knew you drank Yerba every day. Paid for his college by smuggling drugs.

[00:45:48] Dave: Yeah.

[00:45:59] Mason: Well that was really fun. Our first remote recording, it just felt right for it to be having wine near the beach and LA

[00:46:06] Jess: yeah, that was so. I was a bit nervous that you weren’t going to be able to set up the equipment correctly, or we were going to have missing pieces.

[00:46:14] Mason: Yeah. And we did, but we kind of made it work and especially to be in a bedroom, we were kind of U shaped around the bed, which made it interesting.

[00:46:26] Jess: So the wine on that quilt

[00:46:28] Mason: almost completely white quilt, the funniest part, which might end up in bloopers somewhere along the way is that we got pretty tipsy by the end. Didn’t exactly know when to stop drinking the wine. And I don’t remember thinking that my speech was. Slurred, but it definitely did when we listened to it again, and we kind of rambled a bit

[00:46:51] Jess: at the end of the recording.

When we listened to it back, we were like, oh my gosh, we have to delete out or not use some of this.

[00:46:58] Mason: Yeah. So for your ears sake, we actually cut off quite a bit when we were sloppy. So, uh, but it’s kind of par for the course for us.

[00:47:07] Jess: Yeah. So I guess we can get into some of the facts that we want it to share with our listeners.

Um, so read them wine is available shipping in 44 states at this time. Um, or at the time that this episode airs and it’s in Louisiana and in Texas and retailers

[00:47:23] Mason: and retailers, Zana, Texas. Yeah. We can even buy it here in Austin. Yeah.

[00:47:27] Jess: Which we’ve been buying it, um, a case at a time. Yes. And then I like to drink wine, but also because we’re giving it to our other podcast, guests as a little.

Thank you

[00:47:37] Mason: gift. Yes, because it’s so delicious and it’ll hit the shelves in California in March of 2018. And we’re guessing the rest of the U S shortly

[00:47:45] Jess: thereafter. Yeah. Hopefully as quick as possible. Their social handle on Instagram is at red thumb wine. And the website is www.redthumbwine.com. Pretty simple.


[00:47:58] Mason: We’ll put it in the notes. Yeah. So a couple of questions lingering from the episode, we weren’t sure he wasn’t a hundred percent sure what Ava stands for and it does stand for American viticultural area or. And it’s a specific type of appellation of origin used on wine labels. Uh, Navy A’s at D limited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions.

And it is a federal designation. So,

[00:48:28] Jess: what does that mean? Can we sum it up even shorter than that?

[00:48:32] Mason: I think it’s just taking all the unique qualities of a particular area and putting it in writing so that wines can say this is a Russian river wine and Russian river is an Ava. Gotcha.

[00:48:45] Jess: Okay. That makes a little more sense when you explain it that way.

And when

[00:48:49] Mason: we asked about unwanted ingredients, he talked about coloring and clarifying agents and the occasional field. Gross. He was remiss afterwards that he forgot to talk about pesticides and agriculture chemicals. Glyphosate. One of the most common herbicides used in agriculture is actually popping up in a lot of.

[00:49:09] Jess: Buying wines with organic grapes is getting more and more important over time since these herbicides and pesticides persist in the soil and in the water. And the difference between clean and polluted wine is really massive

[00:49:20] Mason: to, I have run multiple, very scientific tests, and I can tell you confidently that I can drink a bottle of red wine.

By myself in the evening and have no hangover the

[00:49:33] Jess: next day. That’s true. You can do that. I’ve tested it

[00:49:36] Mason: actually by yourself. Yeah. I I’ll have the wine cause it’s just so clean and delicious and that’s actually my major takeaway. I, you know, we don’t think about. And our wine that much, and it’s interesting to learn, but I physically can tell the difference.

And so I want us to find more bottles like this. So we’re going to do some research and maybe put together a box of curated wines for y’all. That will be Mason can drink a bottle with no hangovers certified. That’d be great. Any other takeaways?

[00:50:08] Jess: Um, I think my biggest takeaway is that people assume that all wine is vegan and not that there’s necessarily a massive vegan population out there.

And I don’t follow a vegan diet, but I didn’t realize what all could be used as processing agents like fish bladders and cow hub.

[00:50:25] Mason: Um, and even blood, as I thought in the episode, it’s true that blood can be used to clarify. And I think some vegans would tell you that there’s a massive vegan population out there, but the crossover between Diggins and wine drinkers, I would say there’s dramatically more wine drinkers than there are vegans.

[00:50:41] Jess: Right. And so even if you’re not vegan and I’m not vegan, like I don’t want fish bladders and Calhoun. Right.

[00:50:48] Mason: I see. That was the point. So if you enjoyed this at all, please give us a subscribe or follow so you can get notified of wonderful new episodes. And also so that we know you like us. We’ve got some amazing guests coming up that you won’t want to miss.

Thanks for tuning in. Thanks guys.